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Evaluation of the Salt Lake County Homelessness Pay For Success (PFS) Program: HNJ

Study completion: 2023
Contact Person: Christian Sarver

Pay for Success (PFS) is an innovative approach that leverages taxpayer risk by funding social service programs with private capital and ties payment for services to demonstrated outcomes through rigorous evaluation. Salt Lake County has partnered with the Utah Criminal Justice Center (UCJC), The Road Home (TRH), Sorenson Impact Center, and a variety of community stakeholders to develop a PFS project to address homelessness within the community. Despite spending $52 million in Salt Lake County annually on the homelessness service system, there are still large numbers of persistently homeless individuals in the County. The persistently homeless are defined as those individuals who have spent between 90 and 364 days over the previous year in emergency shelters, on the streets, or otherwise tracked as being homeless. These individuals spend long periods of time in emergency shelter and are commonly booked into jail for low-level crimes related to homelessness (e.g., public intoxication, trespassing). Analysis of this population demonstrates that the persistently homeless are at clear risk of remaining homeless without support and are a strain on public resources. Despite their poor outcomes, these individuals are highly unlikely to receive the currently available services for the homeless.

To directly address this population and its unique issues, the County decided to use a Rapid Rehousing (RRH) approach to serve persistently homeless individuals through the Housing not Jail (HNJ) program. The HNJ program, developed by The Road Home (TRH), is based on the framework of the Housing First (HF) model, and was designed to move persistently homeless individuals out of the emergency shelter and into a stable housing placement. HNJ augments the RRH and HF models by incorporating a number of evidence-based practices and comprehensive wraparound services, such as intensive case management, behavioral health group services, and referral to employment services. The Utah Criminal Justice Center (UCJC) was selected as the Independent Evaluator on this $5.7 million six-year project, and is currently conducting a randomized controlled trial (RCT) study to examine the program’s success improving housing stability, criminal justice, and behavioral health outcomes.

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Last Updated: 4/14/21